World News in Brief: July 24

Regulators that normally work within their own countries or regions will likely harmonize efforts on potential COVID-19 vaccines to speed up their approvals once they become available, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday (July 24). According to the latest figure released by the WHO, the three countries that were hit the hardest by the COVID-19 are the United States, Brazil and India. Globally some 15 million cases have now been reported to the WHO, with almost 620,000 deaths.

A vender waits for customers at a kiosk on Times Square in New York, the United States, July 23, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
A vender waits for customers at a kiosk on Times Square in New York, the United States, July 23, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

* Global trade has been hit by new and accumulated import restrictions just as economies need to rebuild in the COVID-19 crisis, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said in a mid-year report issued on Friday. But some export constraints imposed on surgical masks, medicines and medical equipment early in the pandemic are being rolled back, it said. The WTO said last month that estimates for the second quarter of 2020 indicated a year-on-year drop in world trade of about 18%.

* Indian and Chinese diplomats were set for more talks on Friday to narrow differences on ways to pull back troops eye-balling each other across a disputed border in the western Himalayas, where 20 Indian soldiers died in a clash over a month ago.

* The Indonesian government forecast the country's economy would decelerate slightly this year, head of the Fiscal Policy Office of the Finance Ministry Febrio Kacaribu said on Friday. With that condition, Kacaribu stressed that Indonesia might not go into a deep recession as the tax revenue has started improving along with other signals of recovery.

* China ordered the United States to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu on Friday, responding to a US demand this week that China close its Houston consulate, as relations between the world's two largest economies deteriorate.

* US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he is canceling the Jacksonville, Florida component of the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) over the coronavirus outbreak. The latest announcement came as Florida is experiencing a surge in new coronavirus cases.

* The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed the 4 million mark Thursday to reach 4,005,414 as of 3:04 p.m. local time (1904 GMT), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, the national death toll from the disease rose to 143,820, according to the CSSE.

* Brazil on Thursday said it registered 59,961 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, its second-highest one-day increase. A day earlier, it reported a record 67,860 new cases in a single day. The latest new cases took the country's total caseload to 2,287,475, the Health Ministry said. In the same 24-hour period, 1,311 more patients died of the disease, taking the death toll to 84,082. Brazil has the world's second-largest outbreak, after the United States, in both numbers of cases and deaths.

* Russia plans to resume some international flights from Aug. 1, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said on Friday, but the list of destinations will initially be limited to Tanzania, Turkey and the United Kingdom. International flights were grounded on March 30 after the imposition of lockdown measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 800,000 in Russia. Russia continues to report thousands of new COVID-19 infections daily. Its nationwide tally is 800,849, the fourth-highest in the world, with 13,046 deaths.

* Chinese health authority said Friday that it received reports of 21 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Thursday, 15 of which were domestically transmitted. No deaths related to the disease were reported Thursday, the commission said. On Thursday, 18 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals after recovery, and one new suspected case was reported.

* The Lao Ministry of Health reported one new COVID-19 case on Friday for the first time after 102 days. Director of the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology under Lao Ministry of Health, Phonepadith Sangxayalath, told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane on Friday that the new case is a Republic of Korean man, who is a staff of a hydropower project in Laos. The patient went to a quarantine center in Vientiane by a van with another six passengers.

* Cambodia on Friday confirmed four new imported COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the kingdom to 202, said a Health Ministry's press statement. The new cases were detected on four Cambodian peacekeepers, including a female, who returned to Cambodia on July 10 from the war-torn West African nation of Mali, the statement said. The Southeast Asian country has so far recorded a total of 202 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 142 patients cured and 60 remained in hospital.

* The Philippines' health ministry on Friday reported 15 more deaths from the coronavirus and 2,103 additional infections. In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths had increased to 1,879, while confirmed infections have reached 76,444.

* Indonesia reported 1,761 new coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total tally to 95,418, data from the country's Health Ministry website showed. The number of deaths in the Southeast Asian nation related to COVID-19 rose by 89, to bring the total to 4,665, the data showed.

* Malaysia reported another 21 new COVID-19 infections, the Health Ministry said on Friday, bringing the national total to 8,861. Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that five of the cases are imported and 16 are local transmissions. No new deaths was reported, leaving the total deaths at 123.

* The confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan increased by 726 to reach 28,977 as of Friday evening, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying there is no need to declare a state of emergency again for the time being. The number excludes the 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo. The death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus currently stands at a total of 1,007 people, including 13 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

* The number of people in Britain infected with COVID-19 has stopped falling, and now stands at around one in 2,000 people who are not in hospitals or care homes, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. The data is primarily based on 114,674 swab tests conducted in the six weeks running up to July 19.

* Republic of Korea will add 4,000 medical students over the next 10 years to swell the number of its doctors and strengthen the response to future public health crises, government and ruling party officials say. Authorities flagged the need to train doctors for potential outbreaks of infectious disease worse than COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus, pointing to the risk of more frequent epidemics and limited numbers of beds for the sick.

* Germany's COVID-19 cases rose by 815 within one day to 204,183, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Friday. The death toll in the country rose by 10 to stand at 9,111.

* Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan joined thousands of worshippers at Hagia Sophia on Friday for the first prayers there since he declared the monument, revered by Christians and Muslims for almost 1,500 years, a mosque once again.

* The head of the political office of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Denitsa Zheleva, who had tested positive for coronavirus late on Thursday, was on the Balkan country's team at the EU summit earlier this week, a government spokeswoman said on Friday. The delegation returned to Bulgaria on Tuesday afternoon.

* Bolivia's electoral authorities announced on Thursday that the general elections in the South American country are postponed to Oct. 18, after rescheduling from May to Sept. 6. The second delay came two weeks after interim President Jeanine Anez tested positive for the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, four cabinet members were also infected with the novel coronavirus. Earlier, medical experts warned of a possible pandemic peak in late August or early September, leading to the decision.

* Public Health Ministry of Afghanistan has registered 60 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, totaling the number of patients infected with the disease to 35,988 in the country, said a ministry's statement released Friday. According to the statement, 14 new deaths were recorded, bringing the number of COVID-19 related deaths to 1,225 since outbreak of the pandemic in February in the country.